My interview with Ben Stein appears in this week's WestEnder. Pick up a copy if you get the chance!
Ben Stein interview
By Andrea Warner
He has given the world an opportunity to win his money, droned memorably about red eyes, and asked that timeless question: “Bueller…Bueller?” He was valedictorian of his Yale law class, a speechwriter for Nixon, and currently writes a finance column for the New York Times Business Section and Yahoo! Finance.
The question now: Who is Ben Stein? A Darwin-hating, right-wing sensationalist or just a guy willing to throw his reputation on the line fighting for freedom of speech?
Stein’s new movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, doesn’t provide any easy answers. The actor/economist/lawyer co-wrote and stars in Expelled, and begins by making the case that the scientific academia is silencing, censoring, and punishing the “rebel” scientists who dare to question Darwin’s theories in favour of Intelligent Design, which presumes an intentional design or architecture to human existence.
To say Expelled has been polarizing would be an understatement. Internet sites have sprung up to debunk the film’s assertions, and Richard Dawkins, avowed atheist and writer of The God Delusion, claims he was duped into participating along with several other scientists, who believed they were being interviewed for a much more secular documentary called Crossroads about the “intersection of science and religion.”
But for all the fervor, plenty of people feel Expelled finally provides a voice for their views. And the outrage from scientists and atheists just fuels Stein’s fire, making him a man in high demand with little time to spare. The WestEnder got a chance to talk (2 minutes 26 seconds to be precise) with Stein about his new role as the poster boy for Intelligent Design, his hopes for the film, and how ego is his driving force.
This movie has sparked a lot of controversy. Why do you think that is, and was it intentional on your part?
It wasn’t intentional on my part at all. I had no idea, and I’m not sure why it sparked so much controversy. I think it’s because people are afraid of God and they think that we’re trying to force God down their throats and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. If people don’t want to believe in God, that’s their business, but I think there’s some confusion in people’s minds about what our intention is here and it’s frightening them.
What was your intention with the film?
To teach, to tell people about a threat to free speech, and the Darwinian establishment refusing to allow even the most obvious questioning of Darwinism’s relevance.
When did you first become interested in Intelligent Design and making this film?
We where inspired to make this film in 2005 because we know that great advances in science and technology can only happen when there is a free and open environment in research and development. In today's Universities and research departments there is the clamp down on excepted orthodoxies and if there is a mechanism discovered that is in direct contradiction to the Darwinian orthodoxy, that discovery is hushed up.
What, if any, are your concerns regarding the public's reaction to this film? Are you worried about your reputation?
No I am not at all concerned.... I have always been a rebel of sorts.
Scientific American devoted a whole article called "Six things Ben Stein doesn't want you to know about Expelled". Have you read it? If so, what are your thoughts on it?
I have not read the Scientific American article or many of the other articles that have come out strongly against our film. We where fully expecting these articles to come out because we are exposing these very people and their tactics to suppress.
A lot of people have been attacking you, saying you “hate science.” How do you respond?
I know. I don’t understand where that comes from. I have no idea. What I said was science can be used for good or bad. [Note: Stein was recently quoted from an interview with Paul Crouch Jr. as saying “Science leads to killing people.”] There can be science that helps people and cures people and makes their lives easier, and there can be science which gasses people and different kinds of science. I don’t see how anyone can question that. People will say anything, any kind of nonsense that comes to their head. I’m afraid that’s sort of what’s happened now.
Intelligent Design, game shows, law, Ferris Bueller—what’s the connection between all these facets of your personality?
Hmmm…I think all get me in the limelight. (Laughs) I think the connection is they all focus attention on me.
So it’s the Ben Stein show?